In November 2018, I started a project, where I collect stories from emotionally intense people from around the world.
I am overwhelmed by your generosity and feel incredibly moved by your courage to be vulnerable, the poignancy of your stories, and the poetic beauty in your words. This is a continuation of page one of this project.
I hope you will land on some resonance and encouragement in the stories and recommendations from your fellow travellers of life.
To contribute, please click here.
Stephanie, 63, Virginia
You have a friend? You’re a rich person. You’re a gifted person? You get to experience the world. “Thank you for my friend! Thank you for this brain that drives me crazy and drives others crazier!”
Who am I
I’m from Virginia, just outside of DC. I just turned 63 y.o. I was born in NH, and have lived in New England and the DC area all my life. I’ve visited many states, as well as Canada and Australia. I work in air traffic control research and development. My hobby is photography, my favorite genres being fashion and street photography. I’ve been married for 36 years and we have a wonderful daughter in her early 20s.
I am biologically male, psychologically androgynous, spiritually female. I’ve spent time in the world as a female. The inspirational photo I’ve sent to be included is a Snap Chat filtered photo self-portrait, capturing what’s inside me.
What matters to me is surviving. There are things I’ll never do, things I’ll never be. Despite that, I’ve had successes in this life, so I cannot complain.
I reached a point where I discovered a meaning to life that goes beyond simple rationalization, and yet a grander meaning of life seems elusive. Why are we here? What’s our purpose? We’re moss in the forest. We’ve left the Earth, a bit. If we made it to planets around other stars, so what? Who cares? What difference would it make?
While I’m not lonely per se, I am alone. When I try to make connections with people, they are simple connections. Maybe we talk about photography and fashion, but math is out. Even connecting with people through Mensa was a waste of time.
I work with intelligent people, many with Ph.D.s. And yet with these people, rather than curiosity and creativity, I find arrogance and provincialism. In one soul crushing discussion where I was promoting a research proposal, I was asked how I could think I could solve a very specific but impossible problem when there were organizations with large numbers of people with unlimited computing resources that couldn’t solve it?
I go to bed at night praying I won’t awaken. When I do awaken, I imagine the worst deaths possible for me. Then I get up and make it through the day.
Before the riots, New York City was my inspiration. It was full of life! There was no place better. I lived for visiting New York.
Over the years I’ve read lots of books on philosophy, mostly western but some eastern.
My personal favorite inspirational book is in math, “Geometry, Relativity and the Fourth Dimension” by Rudolf v.B. Rucker. It is a small but very dense book that brought me to being able to think in fourspace, an effort that took maybe a year and a half.
Music? I love all kinds of music, but these are my inspirational works: “Capriccio Espagnol” by Rimsky-Korsakov and “Hungarian Dance Number 5” by Brahms.
People who have influenced me
Who have inspired you, or played a role in shaping the way you are? Can be any historical figures, authors, thought leaders or personal role models.
Ayn Rand. Osho. Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Some written words
“The league between virtue and nature engages all things to assume a hostile front to vice. The beautiful laws and substances of the world persecute and whip the traitor. He finds that things are arranged for truth and benefit, but there is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole. You cannot recall the spoken word, you cannot wipe out the foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet or clew. Some damning circumstance always transpires. The laws and substances of nature — water, snow, wind, gravitation — become penalties to the thief.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Compensation”
A life advice
Over the years I’ve discovered a three-legged foundation for my life. The first is the purpose of life. The second regards free will. The third regards the meaning of life, at least as we have our individual lives.
The Purpose of Life
The purpose of life is to live; in kind, all of our actions are moral, amoral, or immoral based on their being life positive, life neutral, or life negative. Most of our actions are amoral in that there is no particular morality associated with it. Choosing to wear blue versus green has generally no moral connotations, and is by this use, amoral.
Free will is ours, and gives us the power to be God-like in our ability to change the universe. Our lives are not predetermined; we’re not puppets, we’re not following a script. Free will is so powerful I do not believe God even knows what we’ll do.
The Meaning of Life
The meaning of life is what we produce and what we create in the limited time we have. It’s our mortality that establishes the context for meaning; it’s what we do that is the actual meaning.
My Words to You
You change yourself by being grateful. You have a friend? You’re a rich person. You’re a gifted person? You get to experience the world. “Thank you for my friend! Thank you for this brain that drives me crazy and drives others crazier!”
You change the world by how you live. You may not see it, you may not ever realize it, but others see you, how you live, and what you do. They notice. A smile, a kind word, something so very simple you don’t even think about it can be so powerful to others.
You’re a part of the universe that has become aware of itself. How cool is that?
Inspirational Picture: It’s me, through the gender changer lens in Snap Chat.
Jade, 30; Ontario, Canada
“You were born into a scripted stage-step off the stage and enter the world you
were meant to be in.”
Who I am:
Jade Bald from Ontario, Canada
What I do:
I’m a thirty year old cat mom and virgo. I’m a lover of walks, music,
laughs, movies, social media, and astrology. Novel writer in progress. I have written
guest posts for blogs, too. They include: The Canadian Stutter Society, The Creative
Penn, The Haven, Aroga Yoga, The Hisdoryan, Women Writers Women’s Books,
Visibly Affirming, Good Men Project, Rebelle Society, A Tribe of Women, Historic
UK, Elephant Journal, Wandering Autumn Magazine, and Counting My Spoons.
I always felt different as a child. I was always tired and seemed emotionally
intense, more so than other children or adults. I preferred solo activities (still do) to
group activities and am an introverted/creative type.
I was told I was ‘too sensitive’ and to ‘stop crying’ a lot growing up. As a teenager,
I wasn’t into parties, drugs, booze, smoking or boys. I preferred the library or
bookstore, even preferring to read a novel instead of listening to a teacher. This
made me an unconventional and ‘easy’ teenager to handle.
In eighth grade, I took a standardized test because I was having difficulties in some
subjects. However, the results revealed that, at thirteen, I had the verbal or word
related intelligence level of a seventeen year old.
Perhaps this could be due to my mother reading to me as a little kid and then my
grandma always encouraging me to read when I was ten, eleven, and twelve. Maybe
it was because I was an only child and raised by adults. I’ll never know.
However, when it came to math, I was at the level of a seven year old. I wasn’t
going to be a doctor or scientist, so that didn’t really matter. A few summers of math
tutoring and I passed my early high school math classes and this allowed me to
pursue a history degree eventually.
I also feel that I’m the ‘giver’ in relationships, always the one people go to, but
never getting that support in return.I feel bitter and resentful for this. I also find that
non-HSP people are boring, for lack of a better word.
I hated being in stressful situations, although my entire childhood was chaotic.
Between a divorce, the death of my alcoholic dad when I was four due to a heart
attack, moving a lot and being bullied, there was never a dull moment.
I only found out the HSP trait about a year and half ago after finding out I was an
INFJ before. This explained why I have had fibro for six years (and counting).
It was too much early life stress compounded by a mother who was emotionally
immature (parentifying me, among other things) and likely narcissistic too
(invalidating my experiences, among other things).
However, it’s no surprise as she is an Adult Child of an Alcoholic (ACOA). She was
always anxious, never trusting and I suspect she was a workaholic, too. Although
she got mental health help, she made some questionable choices later in life.
People who have Influenced me:
I’d say my deceased grandma, first. Despite being an enabler for her alcoholic
husband, she did work full time as a primary school teacher for over forty years
(1940s-1980s). This was unconventional behavior for a woman back then, who was
also a full time mother to three children. In this way, she was a pioneer in breaking
My mother is next. Even though our relationship is poor, I admire her. She was
another woman who did her own thing, who did not conform to the social mold of
having a partner or working in female-centric occupations. She instilled in me a good
work ethic. She also valued education and valued books (all which filled our home).
The last person would be my favourite British actor Orlando Bloom. He’s dyslexic
and in a way always considered himself an outsider, a misfit because he couldn’t
read or write well (and was bullied for this). It made school harder for him and he
was always angry and frustrated because of this. Despite all this hardship, he rose
above it and landed the career he always wanted. In this vein, he’s implying that
being different can be a strength.
Some written words:
Following is a list of phrases that resonate with me:
-you can only expand so much energy
-you’re not responsible for everyone
-you don’t always attract healthy people, so be wary about how open you are
-you don’t need to be ‘on’ all the time, you’re not a machine
-it’s ok to feel things and express them, if people don’t like feelings that’s their
“If life isn’t about human beings and living in harmony, I don’t know what it’s about”
‘Creativity is the key for any child with dyslexia, or for anyone for that matter. Then
you can think outside of the box. Teach them anything is attainable, Let them run
with what you see is whatever they need to run with”
In my own words:
You were born into a scripted stage-step off the stage and enter the world you
were meant to be in. This is where you thrive, where you will be met with openness
and fulfillment. For too long you’ve limited yourself to that stage, kept yourself
chained there, watching yourself wilt into oblivion-because it felt comfortable. Do
your future self a favour and slowly unchain yourself and find your way to the edge,
so that you may set foot into your own world.
Here’s my writing website link: jadebaldwriter.weebly.com
Anthony B., 49, Lyndhurst
Never give up or despair, but remember the boat at sea and adrift
Who I am
I am from Lyndhurst, Ohio, near Cleveland, and am 49 years old. Of course, I’ve always felt not really my own age (I think I’ve always been about 28 or so). I have traveled to Italy when I was in college, and wrote an essay about St. Francis, Italy, and wanting to give to the world, when I was at Ursuline College, where I received a psychology degree. I read obsessively and have always been strongly moved by what I read, so I earned a Library degree from Kent State University. I work in libraries and at universities, but just want to read all literature, history, cosmology, and the living sciences.
I was the middle, “difficult”, child, and my father, who was raised in an environment that hit kids who didn’t listen, needless to say, would be tough on me, the only son of three who “wouldn’t listen”. I did have a very sensitive, artistic, mother, who I am still very close to, but always struggled with existential issues, with OCD-like challenges, and an intense need to try to find our the meaning of everything. At 12, I assumed I was an atheist because I couldn’t see what God could be, then assumed I was agnostic since I was always searching, then, at 28, ran headlong into Holy Ghost pentacostal religion, and now find such beauty in all scripture, including the Qu’ran. A few years ago, I published by poems online for free (“High the Garden Grows, Slow the River Flows”) and it appears to be popular. I continue to try to find the meanings in life and live my best life!
I have read at least 1000 books and my favorite subjects are literature, history, cosmology, and the living sciences. Here are a few: Road Less Traveled (Peck), Walden, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf. I am also a huge Pearl Jam fan. I find spiritual solace in the lyrics and hopeful expression of emotions.
People who have influenced me
I have found that the artistic mind is a mind of suffering and then hopeful clarification in something much greater than the sum of its parts. My favorites are: Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, H.P. Lovecraft.
Some written words
This is a poem I wrote recently, so is not in my book:
Are These Stolen Moments,
Beautiful and Slow,
When the Wind Whistles,
And the Branches Blow?
For When More is Given
And More is Asked,
The Thorns Cut Deeper,
But the Roses Last.
When All is at Peace
And the Heart is Alive,
And Truth is Illumined
In the Blink of an Eye.
When We Hear the Beautiful Music,
And We Hear the Trumpet Play,
Upon the Everlasting Sunshine
Of a Brand New Day!
A life advice
“We are all created from a single soul”. What could be a better reminder of what’s real, and not just what seems?
In my own words
Never give up or despair, but remember the boat at sea and adrift, that its only the waves, and land will soon be in sight again, so never fear! Best to you!!
Madelyn Mae, 41, New Jersey.
‘Individuality is its own reward. Remember your death. Love is everything.’
Who am I?
I am from New Jersey, USA. I am 41. I left home the day after i graduated high school and moved to Philadelphia, where I started a collective household in a house that was part of a land trust, engaged in liberation-directed activism, and was active in the local punk scene. I married a foreigner at 19 so he could get his green card and I could fly for free as his spouse (he was a flight attendant). I went to Chiapas, Mexico for 6 months that same year to be a human rights observer. For the next couple of years I worked as a cook abd would take trips to Europe a couple of times a year with my spouse’s privileges. I fell in love at 22, moved to Syracuse, NY, then to Brooklyn where I finished a degree in sociology. I then went to Austin, TX for a Ph.D., but left after a few months to return to Philadelphia and be a cook. I went back to NYC for a while, then to Seattle for a job, back to NYC for Occupy Wall Street, then to Eastern WA to be a union organizer. I returned to Philadelphia after 1.5 very lonely years on the road, then to Boston to try a PhD again, back to Philadelphia after my mentor was pushed into retirement, and ultimately got an MA in geography at Temple University focused on the housing crisis. During that time my older brother died, which sent me on a journey of healing and self-discovery through a variety of modalities. At 37 I took up Muay Thai, had my first fight at 39, and spent my 40th birthday traveling alone in Thailand. I returned to Thailand soon after that and spent the first 7 months of Covid there, returned to the US (Tacoma, WA), wrote and self-published a book about that journey, and then moved to Cincinnati, OH 6 months later for a job. I now have been in Cincinnati for two months, working on the homelessness prevention team for a community mental health agency. Truth, justice, inner calm, and using every skill and gift at my disposal to help the world evolve beyond greed, ignorance, and wrath are most important to me.
It is incredibly lonely. I doubt myself often. I have had to accept that most people see me as strange and novel and inconvenient. I have felt a deep love for people that made me feel ashamed in the end because I am too much, forever. Spirituality, writing, and art have been the only places where my love can fully be expressed and poured out.
Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher, Love and Rage by Lama Rod Owens, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chögyam Trungpa, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Vander Kolk, in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts by Gabor Mate, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering The Woman at the Heart of Christianity by Cynthia Bourgeault….Bjork, Depeche Mode, VNV Nation
People who have influenced you:
My parents, for abusing me and then treating me like I’m evil and crazy for reacting badly to it…..my gurus and mentors have been all the people and experiences along the way. Mary Magdalene and Phra Mae Thorani are the closest thing I have to role models.
Some written words:
This is a poem I wrote recently called “All I Want is Freedom and Love” (on my Medium page): https://link.medium.com/Ze2bty
“I don’t remember much about the teacher anymore. The contours of his face and the shape of his hands have blown away like top soil in a drought, non-native particles dispersed in some dust, deposited on a windshield far from their origin.
What remains of him has been distilled into a simple question, filed away in my long-term memory but also hung like a banner across my consciousness since he asked: what do you want?
It was nearly a year ago when he asked his question and I answered without hesitation — I wanted a job helping people, my own little apartment, enough money to live, close friends, and an inner state of calmness. I had acquired all of those things at various points in my adult life, but never at the same time and never for long…….”
A life advice:
Individuality is its own reward. Remember your death. Love is everything.
In my own words:
This is going to hurt, but you will also feel deeper love and more profound beauty then most people around you. Love who you are. Embrace solitude. Stay alive.